Monday, April 10, 2017

Witness to a road accident

I must have been 7 or 8 years old when I first saw a road accident happen. It was in Gai Khurey, above Rinchending. My father used to work in charcoal production at the time and our camp was based not so far from the Phuntsholing-Thimphu highway. The sky was clear with plenty of sunshine and the view of the popular Seven Turnings (Sath Ghumti) and Sorcheng was spectacular from where I was standing. I was able to see at the time and I would often spend time watching different vehicles plying the highway especially during the night because the lights and their varying colors would make them look like angels on the road.

My father had left for work and I was just playing outside the house when I caught sight of a truck loaded with gravels stopping on a slightly upward stretch of the highway, about 200-300 meters from my house. Below the road on the left-hand side was a gentle slope filled with newly planted orange saplings and on the right side of the road was a steep cliff leading straight to the roofs of some houses below. A boy who appeared like the driver’s assistant or handiboy went up the hill with a jar-can to get water from the spring. I think they wanted to spray it onto the truck’s engine to cool it down because I had seen drivers doing that before. There was a boy who could be as old as me was seated on the heap of gravels at the back of the truck. The driver was probably inspecting the interior of the truck with his head bent down on the side of the truck. Then suddenly, the truck jerked and started rolling backward. I could see the driver desperately attempting to jump into the truck to control it but he missed it every time he tried. The little boy on the back of the truck started screaming with panic as the truck headed towards the cliff. I could see the bystanders literarily running after the moving truck from the front but seriously, there was nothing that could be done to save it. I think the steering-wheel rotated itself to the left because the nose of the truck soon turned right and the rear of the truck came to the left-side of the road. Then in a flash of seconds, the truck disappeared into the clouds of dusts as it rolled down the slope crashing everything on the way. Then the sound of a huge bang echoed across the valley when the truck crashed against a giant willow tree and stopped. The brunt of the force could have been so strong that the top of the willow tree snapped off on impact. When the dusts settled down, I could not see the boy who was on the back of the truck before it crashed. I was shocked. I ran here and there frantically looking for people to convey the information but there was nobody around. As I helplessly watched the crash site from the distance, I saw people coming together to help. I soon learned that the boy, the driver's son was thrown away on impact and that he escaped with minor injuries. It was such a relief to know that nobody was killed in the accident. It was fortunate that the truck did not crash on the other side of the road where a few houses stood straight down the cliff. The wreckage of the truck remained at the site for a few days while the driver had gone to Phuntsholing to make arrangements to retrieve the vehicle. Soon a crane came by and pulled the wreckage from the crash site. It was towed to Phuntsholing by another truck.

Over three decades have passed since I witnessed that tragic incident but the memories of that day still hover around my head today. I take it as a reminder that a driver must be always mindful of his or her responsibility while driving. The drivers do not only carry their own lives with them. They also carry the lives of their passengers and pedestrians with them. So, a driver must always drive carefully and attentively because the car is not the only thing which can be recalled by its maker. Always be mindful of the speed because over-speeding is one of the most common causes of accidents on the road. People say that the one who drives like hell is bound to reach there. Always watch out your speed limits and drive safe.

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